Inside the Revolutionary Treadmill That's Helping Players Destroy the NFL Combine

The secret weapon behind some of the most explosive NFL Combine performances in history: Tony Villani's SHREDmill.

Jacoby Ford's 4.28.

Phillip Dorsett's 4.33.


Jacoby Ford's 4.28.

Phillip Dorsett's 4.33.

Travis Benjamin's 4.36.

Vic Beasley's 4.53 at 246 pounds.

Those are just some of the NFL Combine 40-Yard Dash results that Tony Villani has helped produce. Owner of XPE Sports Academy in Boca Raton, Florida, Villani has helped a number of high-profile players enhance their game. And one of his biggest training weapons is the SHREDmill, a specialized treadmill that Villani has patented and trademarked. According to Villani, the SHREDmill is now indispensable to his training programs.

Not too long ago, Villani was training athletes on old-school treadmills with the power turned off. This essentially made them manually powered treadmills, which are more effective for building sprint strength and reinforcing proper running mechanics. Though Villani was getting results, he knew the workaround was far from perfect. So with the help of a mechanical engineer, he  worked to design a manually-powered treadmill that would be capable of training every aspect of sprinting—from acceleration to transition to top-speed maintenance. In 2011, the first SHREDmill was born.

Unlike a typical treadmill, the SHREDmill is totally manually powered and uses no electricity. It features a patented magnetic system that can be used to apply a huge variety of resistances. The design is also totally frictionless, offering what Villani calls "the smoothest form of resistance." The incline can be adjusted up to 28 degrees.

The SHREDmill is equipped with a digital readout that displays an athlete's speed at any given second. The large amount of customization available on the SHREDmill allows athletes of any size and strength level to achieve their desired result—learning how to run the right way. If you aren't running with proper form and achieving the required amount of ground force, the SHREDmill's belt is difficult to move.

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"It's natural once they learn how to run correctly. A lot of people will say you have to run the way Tony wants you to run. But I didn't create the SHREDmill based on myself," Villani says. "The SHREDmill was created based on proven sprint techniques. You've got to cycle to open up your stride, and you've got to have power to push off and accelerate. It teaches an athlete that they don't just stand up and run—you accelerate, transition and open up. Then they learn how to use it more effectively."

Travis Benjamin, Mark Ingram and Eric Berry on the SHREDmill

The beauty of the SHREDmill is that it allows athletes to work all three key phases of sprinting. Villani says, "We call the first phrase 'Gear 2.' That's the start and acceleration for the first 10 yards. If you're a lineman but you're big and powerful, you can get to 10 yards just as fast as a receiver. It's all about leg power."

To work on Gear 2, Villani increases the resistance and has the athlete start from a split-stance with his head down and chest low. Think of it almost like a sprinting stance, but your hand isn't on the ground.

Gear 3 is the transition from the acceleration phase to top speed. To train this phase, the SHREDmill is inclined a bit more and the resistance is knocked down a bit. "Gear 3 is your transfer to top speed. That's not just ground force, but having sprint technique along with ground forces to open up your stride," Villani says.

Gear 4 is top speed maintenance. Once you've reached top speed, you need the right mechanics to maintain it. To train this, the SHREDmill is inclined steeper and the resistance is reduced once again. "That's not about getting to top speed, that's about holding your top speed," Villani says.

Villani typically has his athletes work on the SHREDmill four times a week during the off-season. Mondays, they train Gear 4. Tuesdays, they train Gear 2. Thursdays, they focus on every gear and transitioning between gears. On Saturdays, they focus on cleaning up their technique by using the SHREDmill with no resistance.

It's hard to argue with the results the SHREDmill has produced. In addition to the outrageous 40-Yard Dash times listed above, the SHREDmill has helped Mark Ingram revitalize his career. Ingram began training with Villani after his second year in the NFL. Shortly thereafter, he made his first career Pro Bowl. A recent play by Ingram showcases how much more explosive he became under Villani's guidance, as he blew by 49ers cornerback Antoine Bethea on his way to a 75-yard touchdown. Bethea ran a 4.39 at the NFL Combine. Ingram ran a 4.62.

"Ingram ran a 4.62 at the Combine without the SHREDmill. Now, he's beating defensive backs to an angle and outrunning them," Villani says. Ingram hit a blistering speed of 21.31 mph on the play.

Jay Ajayi, who came out of nowhere to become an offensive powerhouse for the Miami Dolphins, trained with Villani for the first time this past off-season. Remember how Joey Bosa missed almost all of training camp during his holdout? Well, he spent that time training at XPE. He's totaled four sacks in his last five games.

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Maurkice Pouncey and Eric Berry both used the SHREDmill while rehabbing from torn ACLs. Both were named to the Pro Bowl after their first post-injury seasons. "Month three during their ACL rehab was when they were cleared to jog. At that point, both of them immediately started training on the SHREDmill and it was a huge piece of their rehab," Villani says.

Perhaps the most resounding endorsement of the SHREDmill is the fact that NFL players Ingram, Anquan Boldin, Kareem Jackson and Jerod Mayo all purchased their own units. "It helps with coming out and being explosive, turnover speed, running with high knees. The overall experience of running, it helps you learn that," Boldin says.

The SHREDmill is not yet featured in a plethora of pro and college training facilities, but the secret is starting to get out.

During the 2015 0ff-season, Clemson became the first college program with a SHREDmill in their facility. They went on to have the best season in school history. During that time, Clemson running back Wayne Gallman frequently consulted Villani while training on the SHREDmill. He ended up setting a new school record for rushing yards in a season. Clemson recently ordered two more SHREDmills, and Villani says roughly 10 college and pro teams will have a SHREDmills in their facilities this off-season. If you're interested in ordering your own SHREDmill, check out the line of products on XPE's website.

Phillip Dorsett

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